a play by Damian Wampler, directed by Angela Astle

Best friends, separated by choice, reunited by fate.

Starts Friday, June 12 for 6 shows at the Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette.

Showtimes: Friday, June 12, 5:30pm,
Sunday, June 14, 9:00pm
Wednesday, June 17, 4:00pm
Thursday, June 18, 4:00pm
Friday, June 19, 7:30pm
Sunday, June 28, 1:00pm

Tickets are $18 at http://www.planetconnectionsfestivity.com/

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Thank you to everyone who checked out my spreadshirt store:
I've made some changes based on your feedback. Let me know what you think.

Canceled Stamps

Throughout the play we are reminded that Trevor, the Iraq war veteran, grew up without parents. Raised by his grandmother Esther, Trevor never knew his father and was abandoned by his mother as well. Esther took him in and raised him, making up for her failure as a mother by being a mother to Trevor.

In early versions of the play, Trevor's mother and father simply weren't there. But is that realistic? Do people vanish into thin air? And even if they are gone, aren't they still really there somehow, in our minds or perhaps our hearts? I began to reflect on my own life and the lives of my friends and found that there are always signs of life, we simply have to know how to read them. What got my attention is my friend Kristin's blog, Canceled Stamps. It reminded me instantly of the letters and postcards my parents always sent me from all over the world. Postcards I threw away, she kept. I've known Kristin since grade school, so it is ironic that her blog has influenced the final version of my play about friends from grade school meeting up. After reading her blog I understood a little bit more about her and about myself, and added elements from her/our lives into Trevor's character. Now Trevor's mother is always in the background as Esther finds letters and postcards throughout her house. On tables, shelves, drawers, Esther keeps finding them and giving them to Trevor.

"Your mother isn’t good at a lot of things, but at least she writes." says Esther in act one.

But Trevor avoids them, discards them and ultimately tears them to pieces. Not only do we have to read the signs but we have to accept them- for what they are. I won't go into detail about Canceled Stamps - check it out for yourself, quite amazing.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Support the Play

I added the finishing touches to my play not long ago thanks to some helpful feedback from my readers. Thanks Gerald. Now the fundraising begins.

As I prepare to show my play to producers I would like to test a potential product- Twin Towers T-Shirts. Please check them out on my webstore and let me know what you think. Would you buy one? Are they too expensive, too cheap, too ugly? And, it if you like a T-shirt the way it is, go ahead and buy it! Proceeds from the sales of these T-shirts goes to the production of my play, graduate school and rent.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Chameleon

Yesterday on the train I read an article in the New Yorker called The Chameleon. It is about a man who grew up in abusive homes and then foster care his whole life. Once an adult he became a con artist, pretending to be a young boy and infiltrating foster homes and even families in Europe and the USA. It is a bizarre case, but not unbelievable. When there is something missing from our lives it is like a gaping hole in our hearts, and we, humans, go to any length to either fill that hole or erase it. By erase I mean to erase the hurt from our minds by using drugs or alcohol. By fill I mean to go in search of a way back to that which we have lost, or a substitute for that which we lack. Both of these paths are useless and utterly destructive. The former, substance abuse, I know nothing about and always prided myself in being immune to. The later, the endless search for that which we long for, and the destruction that it can cause to one self and others, I know intimately.
In the article, Frédéric Bourdin changes his appearance and personality in order to pander to the sympathy, hope, fear and faith of those around him. He finds what people cling to and plays off it. not for a free meal and a bed, but for something even more important - for love. Judges around the world have found it difficult to put this man in jail on criminal charges, for is the search for home, for love, for family, truly criminal?
Trevor has a piece of Frédéric Bourdin in him. Two characters in the play, Olivia and Ester, refer to him as the Chameleon, and I wrote this before the New Yorker article came out. If I were to focus the play entirely on Trevor I would have renamed it Chameleon. He gives people what they want to hear, not what they need, in the desperate attempt to escape the truth. The truth, however , in inescapable, not matter which end of the earth we run to.
As my friends have noted, there is a piece of Trevor in me, a large piece. For many years I travelled, I searched, I ran, and I slipped into other people's families. I felt comfortable sitting at a table with someone else's mom and dad. Not just comfortable, but I preferred it. In the Peace Corps I lived with a family for a year, and for 7 years afterwards I sought to return to Central Asia for nothing more to be a part of that family again. 7 years of longing, desperation, darkness.

The cycle was recently broken. There comes a point though where one stops searching for a family in others and finds family-ness as a trait inside your own heart. Where one doesn't look for a wife but one simply sees one's self as an ideal husband, both strict and caring. The wife-like traits one is searching for must be within, for finding a partner with all the traits you lack is doomed to either fail or create a relationship of dependency. To be whole within one's self is now my goal. Unfortunately Trevor, and many others, never learn this lesson. And Twin Towers leaves us with a question - can Jamal become whole despite unbearable pain and saddness, or will evil consume those closest to Trevor. For the Chameleon, the shapeshifter, the changeling, is actually the devil himself. Without a solid core we are subject to the whim of the wind and the devil.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Reality

"Twin Towers" is without a doubt sympathetic to the hardships faced by our men and women overseas. Part of my inspiration for the play stems from my own wish to see my friends return from Iraq and Afghanistan safe and sound. Many of my closest friends from high school and one friend I served with in the Peace Corps are currently overseas. In fact one of them is in Afghanistan while is wife raises his newborn daughter. In a recent e-mail he told me, "It sucks being here and not being able to watch my one year old daughter grow up."

Some of my friends have commented that the military has diversified to a point where it is more about gaining necessary skills and less about drafting African Americans from the ghetto. This is a valid point- my friends in the military are right to remind me that the army of today is vastly different than the army of the Vietnam era draft, where the poorest and least educated were taken involuntarily. That being said, my play is set in New York City and all I can do is write about what I see. My point is that my play is not meant to represent the complete dynamics of the modern demographic. Hell, Trevor fights a swarm of zombies in Act I, so I'm not claiming to bring the truth, just a cross section of one man's struggle with his inner demons. Thanks to all of you who are reading my blog, your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Although Twin Towers is highly autobiographical, personal and original in concept, there are number of books and movies that inspired me along the way. Here is a summary, enjoy!

Undoubtedly one source of inspiration comes from my favorite author, Herman Hesse. The play contains some structural elements of his famous novel Narcissus and Goldmund while it clearly contains a reference to the Magic Theater from Steppenwolf.

In Twin Towers I pay tribute to the film Tap staring Gregory Hines. My dance scene is a combination of the introductory jail scene where the main character taps to natural rhythms, and the Fred Astaire-esque rooftop scene.

I also borrow from the fun 80’s flick The Warriors, which uses New York City as a backdrop for an unlikely crew of colorful gangs. Where else would I have gotten the Brazilian street thugs from! TRAILER

While I don’t directly steal from any of Romero’s zombie movies, I was guided by his philosophy on film making that I read in two articles, one in the Onion and the other in the Village Voice. Romero says, "I have this device, or conceit, where something happens in the world and I can say, 'Ooo, I'll talk about that—and I can throw zombies in it!" I took this advice to heart and tell a powerful emotional and political tale while having fun at the same time. Although I have to admit that my zombie scene ends up looking more like something from Thriller.

I was conscious of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s final speech (played by Ewan McGregor) to Anikin in Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. Like Revenge of the Sith, Twin Towers tells of two friends divided by good and evil, and one ultimately succumbs to darkness.

OBI-WAN: (continuing) . . . You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would, destroy the Sith, not join them. It was you who would bring balance to the Force, not leave it in Darkness… You were my brother, Anakin. I loved you.

And what about Stop-Loss? I didn't see it until last night, more than a year after I started writing! Oh, my play is better...

Monday, August 4, 2008


Dance is a theme that flows throughout Twin Towers. The two types of dance we see are Argentine Tango and Capoeira. Trevor, our main character, is a master at both. In Act one we learn that the foundation of his relationship with Olivia Walker was forged through Tango. Their personal intimacy is brought about, or perhaps upstaged, by the physical aspect of their relationship. As the play goes on we find that Trevor is unable to voice much of what he feels, and he needs a physical element to any emotion in order for it to reach the surface.

The fundamental root of Trevor’s dilemma is the inability to differentiate between what Erich Fromm calls brotherly love and erotic love. What happens when a man loves a woman is natural. But what happens when a man loves another man? What happens when a man who has lived a life of violence finally feels the need to express love? What happens when one who has never received love finally decided to try to give it? It is awkward, confusing and ultimately disappointing for someone who doesn’t know the difference between the two types of live.

These are the fundamental dilemmas that face Trevor as he returns home from the war. In wartime he was fluid, comfortable, supreme. In peace, he is lost, impotent and frustrated. His only refuge is to take violence, the only thing he knows, and use that as a love force: hence, Capoeira. Capoeira is a blend of martial art, game and dance brought from Africa by slaves and developed in Brazil. This unique dance is a vehicle for developing the relationship between Trevor and Jamal, underlying how the two characters are sometimes in harmony and at other times in conflict. Capoeira blurs the line between dancing and fighting and serves as a metaphor for the grey area between friendship and intimacy.

In Capoeira, Trevor can do physically what he is unable to say – enter into intimate contact with another human being. But the fuzzyness of Capoeira remains – “is it a dance or is it a fight?” Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

I myself was introduced to Capoeira when I volunteered at a community center in the South Bronx through New York Cares (You may have seen it in video games or the film Only the Strong). I helped teach Capoiera to the kids there and learned a little myself. I then went to take one lesson with the teacher and learned the fundamentals. Capoeira’s beauty is that is once was a fully developed martial art that became what it is today because of the oppression of slavery. Violence became dance out of necessity. We can only hope that dance never reverts back to violence.